For 16-year-old Joyce, the college building where she was about to enter represented privilege, wealth, a life she'd never live. As a bedder, Joyce would be making the beds of the male students, sweeping floors, dusting desks. She never expected to also find herself mothering, chastising and sometimes even covering up for "her boys". The Staircase Girls takes us into the lives of Joyce and other bedders, like Nance, Maud, Rose and Audrey. They endured the Second World War and then had to contend with poverty, ill health and bereavement. But their friendships gave them strength, and their work gave them happiness – and even a lasting connection with their charges, some of whom would go on to run the country.